Covid-19 Outbreak in Capital City Sittway and Infecting 19 Residents Within 5 Days, The Highest Virus Spread in Rakhine State, Myanmar, and Millions of People Are Overwhelmed

Heath workers are spraying anti virus liquids in a resident in Sittway, Rakhine State 
  AN. Sittway. August 21, 2020 

A resident of Sittway told our news agency 19 residents, including an INGO staff, a Buddhist monk, and a health worker, have been infected coronavirus within 5 days, the highest outbreak in Rakhine State of Myanmar. 


Ministry of Health and Transport releases information today 10 residents are infected with Covid-19. The total of infections is reached to 19 residents, including a resident in Mrauk U. 


A female bank staff was discovered with infection and positive test result in Sittway on August 16. She went to Kyaukphyu with 5 friends of her and then she joined a social event in Ponnaygun. 


Co-operative Bank was close after its staff was found of Covid-19 infection and tested more staffs and family members and friends whom she had contacted with.


Three more residents were tested positive in Sittway on August 19.


Five people were announced they have infected in the capital on August 20.


Rakhine Covid-19 Watch, a local monitoring organization, confirms 19 residents have been infected in Rakhine State within 5 days.


Local people reported 18 residents had been infected the virus in June in Buthedaug, Maungdaw, Kyauktaw, Mrauk U, Pauktaw, Sittway, Thandway, and Toungup townships. A patient of Covid-19 infected died in Kyatutaw last month.


And, Rakhine State becomes the second highest virus infected region in Myanmar after Yangon Division.  


State government has locked down some streets and restaurants in Sittway since August 20. 


All domestic airlines stop running from Sittway to other cities. All schools in Sittway are closing. 


Ministry of Health and Support issued an order for the residents to stay home and wear face-masks in Sittway on August 20. The ministry warns the second wave of Covid-19 will hit in Rakhine State.


Internet connection in 9 townships in northern Rakhine State, including Paletwa in Chin State, is slow and unable to read news and share information of the virus infections since the ministry of communication and transportation has restricted mobile operators to limit 2G internet services on August 1. 

“These virus infections will be increasing in Sittway and in IDP camps since the health control mechanism is weak, and quick online information sharing system is down in Rakhine State. State government does not have enough budgets to support the people during the periods of home stay. They have to go out to look for jobs and foods,” said Soe Win Naing, a volunteer of Covid-19 monitoring and educating the public.

Northern regions of Rakhine State have over 200,000 IDPs and living in crowd makeshift camps and in Buddhist temples.


International community and local activists as well as lawmakers have been calling on Myanmar government to reopen internet services and to help protecting Covid-19 pandemics. But the government only provides 2G services.


Local people complain the 2G service cannot even send emails and use WhatsApp, Signal, and Viber. They said they cannot read news on webpages and watch news on YouTube. 


Local residents are very worry the current threat of virus and colluding with the war in higher actualities of civilians and increasing the arrests of local villagers. 


One and half million populations in Rakhine State are totally devastated by the current Covid-19 outbreaks and ongoing military’s clearance operations. They all are overwhelmed with fear and uncertainty.  


A local human rights documentation institute—Arakan Information Center (AIC) reports until July 2020, Myanmar army has killed 285 civilians, injured 570, and arrested 606 villagers since the military has been launching offensive operations in Rakhine State and Paletwa township in Chin State in January 2019. 


AIC reports it has recorded 45 villagers have been disappeared, and 233,451 civilians have been displaced until July 2020. 


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